A moment of silence, please, for my missing left breast. For the spreading lumps bubbling through me. Ripping me up from the inside.
I was my own once. Mine alone to throw about, to shred into pieces, to soak in gin and set alight on warm summer nights. I used to pull pints for three pound an hour and spend it on condoms and paracetamol. My name was Pet. Darling. Angel. I was Love herself.
And now, here I stand with my bare feet on crumby slate tiles. There is a cornflake under my heel and milk on my toenails. No more stilettos or polish for me.
My wee girl is in the doorway with her thumb in her mouth. I’ve told her so many times how dirty her hands are. That she was born with my blood under her nails. That she sunk her fingers in and gouged me on her way into the world. And still she clings on, when I have so little time left to spend.
Now she wants to play house with me. I show her how to swaddle, how to breastfeed. I press my babydoll to my missing breast. I used to press the boys so hard…
“Your baba’s crying, mummy,” my daughter says.
We scold the babies, kiss them, shake them.
“No, don’t shake them,” I tell her. “Never shake a baby.”
We rock them, gently. We rock the babies back to sleep.
Sarah Jones is a Northern Irish writer, based in Oxford. Her work has appeared on the Reflex Fiction Blog, in Jupiter Magazine, and in multiple Oxford Writing Circle Anthologies. In 2017 she won the Young Writers in Oxford Award, and in 2021 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes. She tweets at @sazjo_what.